Father Might Know Best
I'm laughing out loud reading this description of life with kids, written by a stay-at-home dad in Men's Health (thanks to Paul Nyhan's Working Father column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for giving me the heads up). And as I read, I'm realizing that he captures quite accurately some of what my kids get when it's Daddy Day at our house. This father lets his kids live their own lives, rather than prepare and sanitize things ahead of time. He's there to meet their needs. But he's not there to interfere with their own growing and learning by jumping in to save them from every difficult moment.
Some of the things in the article are a bit over-the-top for effect - such as recommending a lollipop every time a toddler cries. But read past this and you get to the gist of why a highly involved father is such an asset to kids. This man's kids are building huge amounts of self-confidence and responsibility under his care.
The father-care benefit can't happen if Mom is in the way, coaching and correcting. A father needs long stretches of solo parenting to reach equal competence with his wife. And he needs the emotional room to create his own unique style of parenting - no better, no worse, just different. It's the 'different' that is what's better.